Use A Dry Rub On Prime Rib For A Delicate, Flavorful Crust

Prime rib is a deliciously tender and juicy cut of beef because it's an underutilized muscle and is loaded with marbled fat — and its price tag usually reflects those qualities. Because it can be so expensive compared to other cuts, it's important to cook it the right way. Here at Tasting Table, we think a dry rub is the ideal way to get a crispy and flavorful crust on prime rib. There are many types, but you can take inspiration from our slow-roasted rib roast by recipe developer Taylor Murray. For this version, Murray uses a 6-pound bone-in prime rib roast seasoned with a blend of salt, black pepper, mustard powder, and ground sumac combined with finely chopped garlic and fresh rosemary.

Why should you use a dry rub instead of a marinade? Marinades tenderize the meat as it soaks up the liquids for hours, which makes them ideal for tough cuts of beef. But for prime rib, a cut that's juicy and tender all its own, a dry rub focuses on using seasonings to caramelize the exterior, giving it a sublime flavor and texture. 

Using a dry rub on prime rib

Making a dry rub for prime rib, or any other meat, doesn't have to be complicated as it involves no more than making a pleasant blend of spices. The trick is to balance flavors well, so you don't have something too bold, smoky, or sweet. According to our recipe, you'll need at least a single tablespoon of salt and black pepper for every six pounds. As far as the other seasonings, you can stick to a teaspoon for balance, or increase the amount based on your spice tolerance and the weight of the cut.

Let's get to some ideas for dry rub ingredients you might want to use on the prime rib. Brown sugar is commonly used because it tempers the spice levels of other seasonings. You can match the mild sweetness of brown sugar with smoked paprika for smokiness, cayenne pepper for heat, or chili powder to give the rib roast earthy and spicy flavors. Dried herbs like oregano or rosemary give the meat a herby flavor, garlic and onion powders add a bit of umami, while dried cumin will give the rub an earthy essence. And if you usually like Montreal seasoning on steak, add it to the dry rub. After you settle on your dry rub ingredients, evenly rub it on the outside of the prime rib then cook according to the recipe.